• NSBA Seeks Sponsors for Legislation Supporting Local School Boards
• NSBA Coalition Win: Less Paperwork Requirements for Local School
District Staff Who Facilitate Medicaid School Based Services Claims
• Sequestration: Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing
• President Calls for More Pre-k, Career-Readiness of High School Graduates
• FRN Conference Reminder: Evaluation & Capitol Hill Visits Feedback
• New CREDO Study Sheds Light on Charter Expansion
• NSBA Disputes Claims of Voucher Return on Investment
NSBA Seeks Sponsors for Legislation Supporting Local School Boards
NSBA lobbyists continued visits with Congressional staff to urge members of Congress to support legislation drafted by NSBA, the Local Educational Agency Governance, Flexibility and Efficiency Act of 2013. The legislation would recognize the vital role and responsibilities of local school board governance and local school district decision-making in designing, developing and delivering high quality educational services for our nation’s schoolchildren. The legislation also would ensure that the U.S. Department of Education fulfills its role as a policy implementer rather than a policy-maker, and performs that role with proper recognition of local governance. NSBA lobbyists are receiving favorable reactions to the draft bill.
While members of Congress are at home the week of February 18, we are asking that you contact your members of Congress and urge them to sponsor/co-sponsor the NSBA bill.
NSBA Coalition Win: Less Paperwork Requirements for Local School District Staff Who Facilitate Medicaid School Based Services Claims
NSBA was successful – through strong coalition efforts – and working with the officials in the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services to finalize a regulation on February 14 to cut back paperwork requirements for local school district staff who facilitate Medicaid School Based Services and insurance claims for medical procedures for children with disabilities. Specifically the new regulation sought since 2011, lessens the parental consent requirements to once annually as opposed to requiring a signoff for each procedure. This is accomplished while also protecting family rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. The changes (described in this U.S. Department of Education summary) were published in the Federal Register on February 14 technically as an amendment to IDEA Part B final regulations that change the requirements in 34 CFR 300.154(d). Despite widespread support, the regulation has been held up in the Office of Management and Budget for over two years.
Sequestration: Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing
The Senate Appropriations Committee heard testimony from five Cabinet officials including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan regarding the effect that sequestration would have on education programs. Scheduled to become effective on March 1, the sequester would reduce funding for education programs by an estimated 5.1 percent in this fiscal year.
“Education is the last place to be reducing our investment as the nation continues to climb out of the recent recession and to prepare all of its citizens to meet those challenges created by global economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Secretary Duncan stated. He explained the impact on core programs such as Title I grants, special education and Impact Aid, and stated that for most programs, sequestration would not reduce funds until the 2013-14 school year, although school districts will be making hiring decisions this spring and will have to plan on less funding. “In particular,” he explained, “sequestration would hit hard at federal, state, and local efforts to improve educational opportunities for the nation’s neediest students and families.”
Duncan also cited that state and local budgets are only just beginning to recover from the economic recession and that “any inroads they have made to rebuild or restructure programs…would be substantially undermined by a significant loss in Federal education funds.”
Senate Legislation Introduced…Shortly after last week’s hearing on sequestration, Senate Democrats introduced the “American Family Economic Protection Act,” which would delay the sequester until March 1, 2014. At that time, the bill would impose the across-the-board budget cuts of about $84 billion, with half being applied to defense programs and half from non-defense programs including education.
In the meantime, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that the House will not act on any sequester replacement measure until the Senate acts first.
NSBA is continuing to collect local school board resolutions opposing sequestration, and is sharing them with congressional offices and the White House. To access the sample board resolution and additional information about sequestration, please visit www.nsba.org/stopsequestration.
President Calls for More Pre-k, Career-Readiness of High School Graduates
President Obama called for a high-quality pre-k program for all students, career-readiness focus of high school graduates, and making college more affordable among other education initiatives in his State of the Union speech on February 12. NSBA issued a press statement commending his emphasis on education while expressing concern over the pending federal budget cut to education next month. Some of the funding cuts would inevitably create obstacles to fulfilling many of Obama’s proposal to improve education. Some of the president’s education initiatives from the State of the Union Address include:
• Working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child.
• Making sure high school graduates are on a path to a good job.
• Continuing the Race to the Top program to focus on STEM in high schools.
• Changing the Higher Education Act to make college affordability and value more transparent to students and parents.
FRN Conference Reminder: Evaluation & Capitol Hill Visits Feedback
Thank you for attending the 2013 FRN Conference! Reminder: We need your feedback on your FRN conference experience by Friday, March 1.
Please complete the FRN conference survey by Friday, March 1. NSBA needs to hear feedback from your Hill meetings so that our lobbyists can follow-up with the Congressional offices immediately. Our lobbyists are currently scheduling meetings to follow up on your visits last month. Please let us know which offices you visited so that we don’t miss them! Please take a few minutes to complete this Congressional Visits survey online or fax the paper copy to 703.548.5613 as soon as possible.
New CREDO Study Sheds Light on Charter Expansion
NSBA summarized the findings and implications for school boards and other policymakers on the latest study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) at Stanford University. The study underscored the importance of the charter school authorizing process and the need for diligence when considering charter expansion. It concluded that charter schools, as they age or replicate within networks, are very likely to continue the patterns and performance set by their early years of operation. This reinforces NSBA’s message to Congress that creating or expanding charters simply for the sake of charters is bad policy.
Get more school board resources at NSBA’s Charter School Resource Center at www.nsba.org/charterschools, including a guide on state policy variations and a toolkit designed for school board authorizers.
NSBA Disputes Claims of Voucher Return on Investment
This NSBA analysis debunks a recent study released by voucher proponents that claimed the return of investment for the D.C voucher program was 162 percent. The problem is the assumption the authors based their calculation on is flawed – that graduation rates were 12 percentage points higher for those students who received a voucher than those students who entered the lottery but did not receive a voucher. In reality, there’s little evidence to substantiate the 12-percentage point increase because it is not based on actual data. Consider these bigger questions raised by the Edifier. Get more resources to help defeat vouchers at NSBA’s Voucher Strategy Center www.nsba.org/novouchers.
Sincerely, Kathleen Branch & NSBA’s Advocacy Team
P.S. Congress is on recess the week of February 18. Therefore, NSBA’s Legislative Highlights will resume on Friday, March 1.